A WAR memorial in Leamington has inspired a railwayman to pen a tribute to the 20,000 rail workers who died in the First World War.
Army reservist Jeremy Higgins had just returned from active duty in Iraq in 2007 when he discovered the war memorial at Leamington Station while waiting for a connecting train.
The 50-year-old rail worker from Daventry felt compelled to learn more about the men behind the names and began researching them.
Nearly seven years later, Jeremy has published a book called Great War Railwaymen, with all proceeds going to The Railway Benefit Fund and The Soldiers’ Charity.
Jeremy’s chosen charities have already received donations of £36,000 from train companies in memory of those who lost their lives during the war.
He said: “My aim with the book is to try to remember these people who served and died during the war and to tell their stories to a new generation. The Great War Railwaymen is vital to our understanding of the railways, those that ran them, and the significant role they played. I also wanted to raise money for two wonderful causes, which are very close to my heart.
“It has taken me seven years to research 12,500 of the 20,000-plus railwaymen who died in the Great War. I think their stories are just fascinating and hope others will too.”
One of Jeremy’s favourite stories in the book is about York-based clerk Sergeant HB Parkin, who served in the West Yorkshire Regiment.
Parkin was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Conduct Medal after he courageously fought off a German attack single handily.
General Dannatt, former army head and grandson of a royal engineers officer who ran ammunition trains in France during the First World War, said: “This book is a timely contribution to our commemoration of the First World War and the men and women of that generation who were caught up in its horror and intensity.”
But new author Jeremy – who has been a reservist for 30 years and worked on the railways for 14 – does not plan to let his research end here.
He is continuing to learn more about those who worked on the railways in the Great War with a possible view of writing a follow-up book.
The Great War Railwaymen is available to buy at www.amazon.co.uk and costs £25.